Science Ali Institute of Education
Unfortunately, teaching science has become text-book based. Project Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry based learning (IBL) are approaches to science teaching focusing on understanding the world by questioning, investigating, observing and explaining the order of the world around us. Some teachers may find it challenging to identify a project, but one cannot deny the learning that students experience through projects. Through engaging in projects, students can begin to understand the nature of science.
A few months back I gave a project to my students. I made a dengue monitoring team. The team monitored the pond waters of the Institute and observed if there was any evidence of Dengue mosquito larvae.
Students took water samples from the ponds. The samples were analysed, first with a magnifying glass (in the field) and then with a compound microscope in the science laboratory. The project concluded that the collected water samples did not have any evidence of Dengue Larvae. The students learnt different skills such as observation, data collection, prediction, and inferring etc. They also learnt to make microscopic slides. They also learnt to use different instrumentation such as microscope and pH meter. They extended the project by monitoring the pH value of the water and also collected data on different types of flora and fauna in and around the pond.
Let’s bring theory to practice and make science more meaningful for our students.
In the science week at AIE, we had an opportunity to interact with school science teachers on a number of different workshops. Out of five workshops I enjoyed conducting the workshop entitled ‘Kitchen Chemistry’ the most. The aim of this workshop was to help teachers explore how to use everyday kitchen items to conduct science experiments. During the workshop participants identified major food groups and the additives they contain. They performed simple experiments using kitchen ingredients and identified different physical and chemical changes taking place during in the kitchen.
The topic was introduced by an activity in which I prepared tea and a sandwich in front of the class, discussing how these are made up of number of chemical compounds. Tea is a mixture of caffeine, water, sugar and milk. Bread is made from three main ingredients: water, grains and leavener (also called raising agent). Making bread from yeast is an aerobic reaction. Cooked bread has a spongy texture due to carbon dioxide. We also discussed that there are many food items that contain additives which are mainly artificial in the form of colouring agents, flavouring agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers, preservatives, gelling and glazing agents.
The groups made jelly and sandwiches with mayonnaise and boiled eggs. When eggs are cooked they become firmer. This is because cooking changes the shape of the amino acid chains in the egg. This is called ‘denaturing’. Mayonnaise is an emulsion. It does not separate when it is left to stand. Mayonnaise is made using egg yolk. This contains lecithin, which is a natural emulsifier. Jelly is formed due to pectin which is a carbohydrate found in fruits. When sugar is added, the pectin in fruit precipitates out and forms insoluble fibres. We also discussed different chemical compounds which are responsible for the colours of different vegetables - for instance: orange is ?- and ?-carotene; red is lycopene; purple is anthocyanins; yellow is flavonoids; yellow-green is lutein.
The workshop ended with lots of laughter - the participants learnt and had fun at the same time.
During the AIE summer “Kids’ University” we explored the use of microscopes in one of the science sessions. It was one of the best sessions. The sight of the microscopes made them really excited (the felt like real scientists!) and the kids started exploring the use of the microscopes which raised many questions. They asked how a microscope works and what they can see using it.
I showed them how to adjust the microscope. The children prepared onion cell slides for the first time ever. They were surprised to see the layers of hexagonal cells stained blue with methylene blue dye arranged in an orderly manner. Even the nuclei were clearly visible. They learnt to change the magnification powers. They learnt to use course and fine adjustments. They adjusted the mirror to focus the light on the slide.
Later the students prepared slides of samples of moss and fungus. They enjoyed observing different samples under the microscopes. It was a great learning experience for them as well as for me. Even the small kids of Grade-2 learnt to prepare slides and operated the microscopes and recorded their observations on the worksheets.
This reinforced for me the value of using hands-on and minds-on approaches for teaching science to promote students interest in this subject.
WHAT IS STEM?
Knowledge expands with great rapidity. We are surrounded by the wonders of technology. To prepare student-teachers for the challenging future this represents, it is important that we equip them with wide-ranging skills. The 21st Century teacher needs to look critically at what and how students are acquiring these skills. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a well-known and well-practiced idea in many countries, here in Pakistan there is still scope for doing more.
I shared the idea of combining disciplines (i.e. STEM) with my student-teachers. STEM is about integrated learning, bring together opportunities for students to develop problem-solving skills, productive team work, decision-making skills, whilst engaging students in innovative projects, making connections with real world problems and creative solutions.
The student-teachers decided to work on 3 different projects. One group made an anemometer - an instrument that helps to measure air speed. Another group designed a conveyor belt – to move things from one place to another. The third group designed a hand-biometric system.
The students worked enthusiastically and enjoyed the projects. 21st Century teachers should always try to bring creativity and innovation to their lessons - scientific literacy is the ultimate goal.
Science Kits –An Innovative Solution for Primary and Middle Grade Science Teachers
In our country, science laboratories are only available to High School students - there are biology, physics and chemistry laboratories in every school to fulfill the practical components of these subjects. Unfortunately, we do not have Primary School or a Middle School science laboratories. This means that primary and middle school teachers are not equipped with the necessary materials and resources for practical science teaching. The importance of learning about science in these grades cannot be overlooked. The lack of exciting, positive learning experiences in primary and middle school science leads to poor performance in later learning.
A few days back, I shared the idea of science kits with my student teachers. A science kit is a portable box having resources for performing different experiments. We discussed in detail about the importance of science kits, different types of kits, and what might be the characteristics of a good science kit. Fortunately, I had a few kits to share with my students. They liked the idea and we decided to develop some science kits for the primary, middle and secondary levels.
After a month, I was surprised to see 15 kits covering the major concepts of physics and chemistry at the Primary and Middle Grades. The kits were supported with an instructional guide for the teacher mentioning the details of the experiments for which the kit was developed. I was surprised to see the creativity of the young trainee-teachers in developing the improvised apparatus (mostly constructed from home-made materials). They enjoyed the activity and decided to develop and use such kits in their future teaching.
No doubt, such Science Kits can serve as an innovative solution to the practical needs of teaching science.
Asst. Professor, AIE
Enjoy the Joy on your Students’ Faces
Science is a practical subject and so it should be taught through lots of experiments and activities. Last week I was teaching states of matter to my students. The class was due to start at 10:30 am. I went to the Science Laboratory an hour before to arrange the material for the activities and experiments. I arranged material for the 5 experiments on the laboratory tables. These experiments were related to the following concepts: liquids have no shape and they take the shape of their container; liquids have a specific volume; air has weight; air occupies space; air does not have a specific volume; particles exist and are in continuous motion.
The students started to arrive at 10:30am. I was very excited because it was my first class with them. After the usual introductions with new students, I asked them to perform the activities, helping them out wherever I could see them struggling. They were working in groups. Each group shared the results of their experiments. At the end of each round, as I explained the underlying concepts behind the experiments, I could see the students were so happy! They had become very animated in class – enthused by what they had learned. At that time I felt like the conqueror- the most successful teacher in the world! At the end of 3 hours I felt completely energised! I enjoyed the joy on my students’ faces. Do you also feel the same at the end of your class?
Let’s Start Reflecting
“Today the class went very well. Students enjoyed the pictures on the power point slides that made the topic interesting for them. Everybody participated very well but Sarah did not participate as usual. Although I asked some very easy questions from her, she was not able to respond. I wanted to talk to her after the class but Group-1 students surrounded me with their queries regarding their project work. I will talk to her personally tomorrow and try to find out what is disturbing her. I really want to help her. I still remember her happy, smiling face a few months back when our class went on a field trip, to a paper making company. There must be some problem with her - maybe at home. I will find out tomorrow…”
Abstract taken from the reflective diary of a science teacher.
Spending five to ten minutes daily on reflecting what went well and what was wrong and how I can improve further is very important. We all should reflect on our everyday life situations and, as teachers, on our teaching practice. These reflections not only inform us about classroom issues but also guide us as what to do next. At the Ali Institute of Education we claim that we transform people into Reflective Practioners.
By Aqsa Kamran
Bisma is a 7- year old Grade-1 student. She was weeping badly when she returned home. Her mother asked the reason for being so upset. She told that her teacher said, “You cannot do any thing, your handwriting and spelling will never improve. You should have not been promoted to Grade-1.” These words upset the mother as well. She comforted her daughter by saying, “Don’t worry Bisma, we will chalk-out a plan and will work on it. Nothing is impossible in this world, I am with you and with a little effort you can make a big difference.” Bisma regained some
As teachers we are always looking for resources to make our teaching experience memorable for our students. A chicken’s egg is a resource that is easily available and can be used in a number of different ways.
1. The raw chicken egg can be used to demonstrate carbon dioxide (CO2 ) gas formation in the class. I asked my class to think about how to remove the egg shell without touching it? One of the students came up with the idea of putting it in vinegar. As we know, the egg shell is made of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3 ) so when an egg is allowed to sit in the beaker of vinegar (acetic acid, CH3COOH), bubbles of CO2
Learning and teaching about theories was always very boring for me and my students. I always tried to make these lessons interesting by using a range of different innovative ideas. These days we are learning about the teaching of ‘atomic structure’ in our B.Ed class. We discussed different theories related to the structure of the atom such as Dalton’s Atomic Theory, the J.J.Thomson Plum Pudding Model of an Atom, Rutherford’s Atomic Theory and Bohr’s Theory. I asked my students to be very creative and make the learning of these theories simple and